Cross Plains Fire 2005

Coping With Disaster

Incidents of terrorism have shocked, saddened and angered the nation,and left many people wondering how to deal with the aftermath of such tragic events.

This digest offers tips and information on taking care of yourself, helping others cope.

  • If you are in an area that has been directly affected by the terrorism, your first priority should be your own safety and that of your family.
  • Listen to the television, radio or a portable radio for information on shelters, helpful resources and safety advisories.
  • Stay out of and away from damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.? Children should be constantly supervised.
  • Be alert for potential hazards. Take extreme care when moving in an area that has been damaged. It is possible that shattered glass, splintered wood or other sharp objects will be strewn around even in areas quite far from the affected locations.
  • Cooperate with authorities. Whether you're asked to relinquish telephone lines, keep off emergency roads, or given other directions, do your best to comply.
  • Use caution when traveling.
  • Be cautious with food. When electricity is out, refrigerated foods can spoil quickly, throw out any food that is questionable. Frozen foods with typically last in a closed freezer for several days.
  • Be cautious with drinking water. Water supplies can become contaminated in damaged areas. Radio reports will typically notify residents if your water is safe to drink. Try to drink bottled water until you know for sure. On average, you need one gallon of water per family member per day. (Tip you can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.)
  • Remember to help others who may require special assistance infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Reactions to a Traumatic Event: Disasters such as the terrorist attacks that occurred today can result in extreme emotions including stress, helplessness, fear, irritability, anger, depression and grief. Although everyone deals with trauma and stress differently, there are some common reactions, including recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event; difficulty sleeping or changes in appetite; anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma; feelings of depression, sadness and having low energy; memory problems including difficulty remembering aspects of the trauma; difficulty focusing on work or daily activities; spontaneous crying, feelings of despair and/or hopelessness; avoiding activities, places or even people who remind you of the event; feeling emotionally numb, withdrawn, disconnected or different from others; feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones.


If you or a loved one are experiencing extreme symptoms of stress, depression, grief or anger, consult a professional such as your doctor or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) immediately for help.

Consider the following tips:

  • Reach out to supportive friends and family for comfort and guidance.
  • Be patient and give yourself plenty of time to recover and rest.
  • Try to maintain a nutritious diet to keep your energy up.
  • Focus on your breathing deep, slow breaths will help calm you.
  • Keep in mind that emotional and physical reactions to a traumatic event may not appear immediately. Sometimes they may appear hours, days or even weeks or months after the event. The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks, months or possibly longer depending on the severity of the event.


According to the American Psychological Association, individuals who are unable to regain control of their lives, or who experience the symptoms above for more than a month, should consider seeking professional mental health assistance.

Emergency Prepardness Tips
Talking With Children About Disaster